Past Expert Picks
Buffalo @ San Francisco | 12/08 | 1:15 AM UTC
San Francisco PK
Monday will mark the third time Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert and Brandon Aiyuk are on the field together. The presence of those outside threats can only help Mostert and the 49ers' running game. Buffalo gives up 4.7 yards per carry; only seven teams are worse. John Brown's absence takes the Bills' offense down a notch. Play on the desperate, improving 49ers.
The Bills rushing game got off to a slow start this season but seems to be picking up steam recently with 126 rushing yards in three of their last five games, and one of those Unders came when they decided to almost exclusively pass the ball. My model says Buffalo covers more than 50 percent of the time -- and wins 26-23 -- so you're getting good value with the Bills at this number.
This line has steamed to the 49ers, but I'm not sure I understand why. Yes, the 49ers got healthier during their Week 11 bye and their defense showed up against a good offense from Los Angeles. But you can say the exact same thing about the Bills, who allowed their lowest point total in a non-Jets game (important qualifier) all season against the Chargers. The 49ers offense, which is still without its quarterback and best overall player, has turned the ball over multiple times in five straight games, and the Bills defense ranks fourth in the league in turnover rate. Now we get to the fact that it's a neutral field game where we're getting a point with the better team. Love the Bills here.
We're dealing with an unusual situation here, as this 49ers "home" game will be played in Arizona, but with so few fans allowed in attendance at games this season, I'm not sure that has any actual impact. Which is why I like the 49ers as home dogs in this spot. Buffalo is a good team, but I'm not quite ready to trust the Bills as road favorites against a team that's not entirely incompetent, and the 49ers, for their faults, are not entirely incompetent.
The 49ers don't have a home but they're getting healthier. Richard Sherman, Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert make a big difference. Nick Mullens played well last week and Buffalo's defense doesn't thrill me. Kyle Shanahan is doing a heckuva coaching job. Grab the points.
That the Niners are short favorites is a bit surprising considering it's not a true home game but at a neutral site in Arizona -- and the Bills are familiar with playing there, losing on a Hail Murray in Week 10. If Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle were healthy, I would lean San Francisco but not with Nick Mullens under center. Plus, the Bills are arguably the healthiest they have been all season with nary a player even listed as questionable. Starting linebacker Matt Milano could be activated off IR today and return as well. He was at practice last week. Buffalo has just one ATS loss in its past nine as a road dog.